Can Cambodia’s opposition keep pressure on PM Hun Sen?

Opposition leader Kem Sokha has been released from house arrest but the crackdown on dissent continues.

Inside Story11 Nov 2019 20:17 GMT CambodiaAsia Pacific

Cambodia‘s Prime Minister Hun Sen has silenced nearly all voices of dissent in recent years.

His government shut down independent media and dissolved the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

CNRP leader Kem Sokha was freed after a year of house arrest, but he still faces severe restrictions and is banned from leaving the country.

His colleagues, including party co-founder Sam Rainsy, are facing challenges of their own as they try to return to Cambodia from exile.

This is happening as the government faces international condemnation for undermining democracy and human rights.

Can they maintain the pressure despite a government crackdown?

Presenter: Nastasya Tay

Guests:

Sam Rainsy – acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party

Graham Ong-Webb – research fellow at S Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Benjamin Zawacki – independent Southeast Asia analyst and author

Source: Al Jazeera News

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Cambodia’s strongman wants ‘democracy’ without competition

Mr. Hun Sen prefers “democracy” in which voters have only one choice. លោកហ៊ុនសែនជ្រើសយកប្រជាធិបតេយ្យដែលប្រជាពលរដ្ឋអ្នកបោះឆ្នោតមានជំរើសបក្សតែមួយប៉ុណ្ណោះ។

Opinion

Cambodia’s strongman wants ‘democracy’ without competition

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy in Tokyo in November 2015. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy in Tokyo in November 2015. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)By Editorial Board Oct. 27, 2019 at 4:25 p.m. PDT

HUN SEN, the authoritarian prime minister of Cambodia, is worried, and is using every trick in the book to threaten Sam Rainsy of the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, who plans to return to Cambodia from exile on Nov. 9. Mr. Hun Sen dominates parliament and politics — his ruling party won all 125 seats in parliament in the 2018 election — but still shows signs of insecurity over the return of Mr. Rainsy, an exponent of democracy, returning for the first time in four years.

Mr. Rainsy’s supporters have been flashing a nine-fingers sign to mark the date. The prime minister told students during remarks at a recent graduation ceremony, “Don’t ever join the nine-fingers campaign. If you dare do it, you should have one of your remaining fingers cut off.” Speaking of Mr. Rainsy, he added, “It is a plot to carry out a coup d’etat, for regime change! Millions of people and armed forces are waiting for you on November 9. Your head is not made from iron.”

Mr. Rainsy, who led his party to large gains in the 2013 and 2017 elections, has also been blunt about his intentions, telling Radio Free Asia’s Khmer Service that the goal of his return is to lead a “tsunami” of his followers to restore democracy and arrest Mr. Hun Sen. He also vowed to “liberate” Kem Sokha, a co-founder of the banned party, who has been under house arrest since 2017 on fabricated charges of treason.AD

Since Mr. Rainsy’s return was announced in August, Cambodian authorities have launched a fresh crackdown on members of the outlawed party. More than 50 have been charged with crimes, and 31 have been jailed, according to Human Rights Watch. All the charges “appear to be baseless and politically motivated,” Human Rights Watch said. Ideally, Mr. Rainsy’s return should be an opportunity to breathe some competition into the political scene. Mr. Hun Sen prefers “democracy” in which voters have only one choice.

Not surprisingly, the prime minister would also prefer to be unbothered by independent journalism. A trial of two journalists has moved from being unjust to being just farce. Espionage charges should never have been brought against Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin, who worked for Radio Free Asia. Their trial concluded Aug. 9. Instead of a verdict, the judge ordered a new investigation. The case stems from Radio Free Asia’s closing of its bureau in Phnom Penh in September 2017, following threats from the government. Three days after the bureau’s closure, the reporters filed one more story, which was published. Nevertheless, the Cambodian government warned that any journalists still working for Radio Free Asia would be treated as spies. In November 2017, the journalists were charged with “illegally collecting information for a foreign source,” and a charge of producing pornography was later added. The journalists say they are innocent and have appealed. The case is a travesty of justice and should be dismissed.

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Hun Sen must compromise

Editorial

To most outsiders, as well as many Cambodians, the political purge against the CNRP is politically motivated and unjustified. Hun Sen should start letting the opposition leaders reenter politics before sympathy towards them grows further — not just among their supporters but also from within the ruling CPP and among the military top brass. A return to democracy will benefit his country politically, socially and economically.

សម្រាប់អ្នកខាងក្រៅក៏ដូចជាប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរការកំចាត់ចេញគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិគឺជារឿងនយោបាយហើយមិនអាចមានលេសណាផ្សេងឡើយ។ ហ៊ុនសែនត្រូវផ្តើមអនុញ្ញាតអោយថ្នាក់ដឹកនាំបក្សជំទាស់ចូលឆាកនយោបាយមុនក្តីអាណិតអាសូរមានការកើនឡើងដោយមិនមែនតែក្នុងចំណោមអ្នកគាំទ្រប៉ុណ្ណោះទេតែថែមទាំងមនុស្សក្នុងជួរបក្សប្រជាជននិងកងកំឡាំងប្រដាប់អាវុធ។ ការត្រឡប់ចូលប្រទេសវិញនឹងទទួលផលចំណេញទាំងនយោបាយ សេដ្ឋកិច្ច និងសង្គម។

EDITORIALCOLUMNIST

PUBLISHED : 26 OCT 2019 AT 07:12

NEWSPAPER SECTION: OPED

As a result of his brutal political purge against the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and its senior members over the past few years, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has got what he wanted. His ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a “fake”, uncontested election last year and he has prolonged his stay in power. But he has left the future of his country and its people in disarray.

Since the court dissolved the CNRP and banned its 118 members from politics for five years in 2017, Cambodia has become a de facto one-party state, and democracy is practically dead there. The country is facing the prospect of trade sanctions by the West which could put its economy in jeopardy.

Now opposition leaders are calling for a fresh election and reinstatement to their political roles. Their return could help rebalance power in politics, a good thing for the country. Hun Sen should have compromised to let it happen as he has done in the past.

But asking for political pluralism in Cambodia nowadays has proven to be a request too far for the strongman. Since the CNRP’s acting president, Sam Rainsy, and other exiled opposition leaders pledged in August to re-enter the country by land on Nov 9, the country’s Independence Day, Hun Sen has had dozens of CNRP supporters and leaders arrested and threatened to deploy the armed forces against those who dare to return.

The Thai government, for its part, has signalled that it will not allow the opposition leaders to execute their plan to lead Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand on a march back into their homeland as part of a “people’s movement” against Hun Sen. Last Sunday, Mu Sochua, the CNRP deputy leader, was denied entry to Thailand at Suvarnabhumi airport and has returned to the US where she is also a citizen.

While some doubt whether Sam Rainsy’s plan could succeed, it does not supersede the fact that Cambodia and its people would be better off if the opposition party were reinstated and its members allowed to participate in politics again.

For Hun Sen, he cannot overlook the fact that his political crackdown and the flawed election could cost his country trade benefits from the EU and the US. The EU is considering whether to scrap trade preferences — duty-free access for all exports to the EU, except arms — which are vital to Cambodia’s economy, while the US has already begun introducing diplomatic sanctions and reviewing its preferential trade scheme with the country.

Hun Sen may have banked on investment from China over the past few years, but there has been growing unease among many Cambodians regarding Chinese influence, especially given that the benefits of these deals have not been widely shared with local people.



Some may hail Cambodia’s “political stability” as a boon that has helped spur economic growth, but such stability was the result of Hun Sen’s ruthless crackdown on his rivals. Deep down, there must have been resentment among many Cambodians.

Continue reading “Hun Sen must compromise”
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លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីធ្វើអោយពិភពលោកផ្អើលម្តងទៀត៩វិច្ឆិកា២០១៩

យើងទាំងអស់គ្នានៅចាំបានកាលពីមាតុភូមិនិវត្សន៍របស់លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីកាលពីថ្ងៃទី១៩ ខែកក្កដា ឆ្នាំ២០១៣ ដែលនៅពេលនោះមានប្រជាពលរដ្ឋច្រើនដល់លាននាក់នៅទីក្រុងភ្នំពេញជាពិសេសក្នុងចំណោមយុវជន-យុវតីបានចេញមកទទួលនិងហែរហមគាត់ពីព្រលានយន្តហោះទៅដល់ទីស្នាក់ការគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ។ អ្នកតាមដានស្ថានការណ៍សង្កេតឃើញថាប្រជាប្រីយភាពដ៏លើសលប់របស់លោកនៅពេលនោះគឺមកពីលោកជាអ្នកនយោបាយឈរលើសច្ចភាពទៀងត្រង់ក្នុងការនាំមកនូវលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យពិតប្រាកដជូនដល់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ។ ហើយអ្វីដែលធ្វើអោយមនុស្សម្នារអ្នកគាំទ្រដ៏ច្រើនលើសលប់ចេញមកទទួលនៅពេលនោះគឺបណ្តាលមករដ្ឋាភិបាលក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់លោកហ៊ុន-សែនបានតាមបៀតបៀនដល់លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីមិនចេះចប់មិនចេះហើយជាពិសេសមានដីកាតុលាការរាប់មិនអស់ដែលតុលាការកម្ពុជាមានឈ្មោះអាក្រក់ខាងកាត់ក្តីគ្មានយុត្តិធម៌។ ក្នុងចំណោមដីកាតុលាការទាំងនោះ ការចោទប្រកាន់ទៅលើលោកសម-រង្ស៊ីរឿងដកបង្គោលព្រំដែននិងបំផ្លាញមិត្តភាពរបស់រដ្ឋាភិបាលកម្ពុជាជាមួយវៀតណាមគឺជារលកដំបូងនាំទៅរករលកស៊ូណាមីនាពេលនោះ។

លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីប្រកាសដកតែហ៊ុន-សែនចេញទេ ចំណែកមេដឹកនាំសំខាន់ៗដូចជាស-ខេង និងសាយ-ឈុំគឺលោកអាចធ្វើការជាមួយបាន។

ព្រឹត្តការណ៍៩វិច្ឆិកា២០១៩ខាងមុខនេះ មានភាពឡូសុិក(logic)ជាងឆ្នាំ២០១៣ទៅទៀត។ ការលាលែងពីតំណែងជាប្រធានបក្សរបស់លោកសម-រង្សុី ត្រូវបានគេមើលឃើញថាជាទង្វើគំរូប្រកបដោយការលៈបង់ខ្ពស់របស់លោកក្នុងការរក្សាគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិអោយមានដំណើរការជាប្រក្រតីភាព។ ប៉ុន្តែការចាប់ចងលោកកឹម-សុខា ដែលជាប្រធានបក្សបន្តវេន រួចរំលាយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិទាំងមិនទាន់បានរកកំហុសនិងកាត់ទោសលោកកឹម-សុខាផងនោះរឹតតែធ្វើអោយសមាជិកបក្សដែលបោះឆ្នោតអោយជាង៣លាននាក់នៅមិនអស់ចិត្តសោះ។

ការវិលត្រឡប់មកវិញរបស់លោកសម-រង្សុីក្នុងនាមជាប្រធានស្តីទីរបស់គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិនិងដំណើរវិវឌ្ឍន៍ទៅមាតុប្រទេសវិញដើម្បីស្រោចស្រង់គណបក្សមួយនេះ ជារឿងមួយធ្វើអោយអ្នកគាំទ្របក្សនេះពាក់កណ្តាលប្រទេសមានភាពថប់ដង្ហើមមិនអាចលាក់ខ្លួនបំពួនអាត្មាក្នុងការមិនចេញមកទទួលលោកសម-រង្សុីដោយអហឹង្សាបានឡើយ។

ប្រាក់រៀលក្រដាស១៥០០០ថ្មីដែលមានរូបឆាយាលក្ខណ៍នរោត្តមសីហមុនីនិងស្តូបឈ្នះឈ្នះស្តាយសិល្បៈយួនដែលកំពុងទទួលការរិៈគន់ពីមហាជនយ៉ាងដំណំ

ចំណែកលោកហ៊ុន-សែនវិញ អ្នកតាមដានស្ថានការណ៍សង្កេតឃើញថា ដើរខុសច្រើនអន្លើរដោយសារតែអំនួតនិងមោហៈបាំងលុះដោយការស្រេកឃ្លានអំណាចគ្មានទីបញ្ចប់។ ជំនួសអោយការទទួលស្គាល់ការពិតពីការថយចុះយ៉ាងគំហុកនៃប្រជាប្រីយភាពក្រោមការដឹកនាំរបស់ខ្លួនជាង៣០ឆ្នាំ រួចប្រកាសខ្លួនចូលរឺត្រែតក្លាយខ្លួនជារដ្ឋបុរស(statesman)ម្នាក់ ហ៊ុនសែនបែរប្រើល្បិចពិសពុលប្រកាសសត្រូវជាមួយប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្លួនជិតពាក់កណ្តាលនគរដែលបោះឆ្នោតអោយគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិដោយចាប់មេដឹកនាំពួកគេដាក់ឃុំឃាំងក្នុងបទចោទក្លែងក្លាយ រំលាយគណបក្សមួយនេះមានបទចោទដោយសាលដីកាតុលាការកំពូលដោយគ្មានមូលដ្ឋានច្បាប់ពិតប្រាកដនិងបិទផ្លូវតវ៉ា ដកកៅអីតំណាងរាស្ត្រទាំង៥៥ចេញព្រមទាំងក្រុមប្រឹក្សាឃុំ-សង្កាត់ទាំង៥០០៧នាក់ដែលប្រជាជនពលរដ្ឋបោះឆ្នោតអោយ យកមកអោយមនុស្សដែលមានស្វាមីភក្តិជាមួយខ្លួនវិញ។

មិនមែនគ្រាន់តែរំលោភទៅលើរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញ រំលោភអំណាច និងប្រកាសជាសត្រូវជាមួយប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្លួនឯងប៉ុណ្ណោះទេ ហ៊ុន-សែនហ៊ានធ្វើសម្បទានគ្រប់បែបយ៉ាងនៅពេលខ្លួនកំពុងមានអំណាចដូចជាសម្បទានល្អជាអាក្រក់ដោយការពារនិងតំឡើងបុណ្យសក្កិពួកជនទុច្ចរិត-ឃាតករ-ចោរជាដើម សម្បទានអោយចិនអាចប្រើប្រាស់ដីខ្មែរបានយ៉ាងសេរី និងសម្បទាយួនរឿងបោះបង្គោលព្រំដែនជាដើម។ល។និង។ល។ ហ៊ុន-សែនហ៊ានសម្បទានគ្រប់បែបយ៉ាងអោយជននិងប្រទេសណាដែលហ៊ានជួយការពារអំណាចគាត់កំឡុងពេលផុយស្រួយនៃអំណាចខ្លួនសព្វថ្ងៃនេះ។

លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីអោនថើបព្រះធរណីកម្ពុជាក្នុងកំឡុងមានមនុស្សច្រើនដល់លាននាក់មកទទួលលោកនៅព្រលានយន្តហោះនៅថ្ងៃទី១៩ កក្កដា ២០១៣។

លទ្ធផលពីនយោបាយហក់ចូលក្នុងឆ្នាំងដំាទឹកពុះរបស់ហ៊ុន-សែននាពេលនេះគឺ លោកសម-រង្ស៊ីប្រកាសប្រើអំណាចប្រជាជន(people power)និងកៀរគរអ្នកស្នេហាជាតិពិតប្រាកដក្នុងជួរគណបក្សប្រជាជនដែលកំពុងមិនពេញចិត្តលោកហ៊ុន-សែនស្រាប់ ក៏ដូចជាចូលទៅរំដោះព្រះមហាក្សត្រពីការគាបសង្កត់ពីហ៊ុន-សែន រំដោះកម្ពុជាពីចិន-យួន ការពារអ៊ីប៊ីអេ(EBA)និងជីអេសស្ទី(GST) និងស្តារនីតិរដ្ឋក៏ដូចជាលទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យឡើងវិញស្របតាមរដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញនិងកិច្ចព្រមព្រៀងសន្តិភាពទីក្រុងប៉ារីស។ មកដល់ថ្ងៃនេះ ក្រោមសំពាធពីប្រជាពលរដ្ឋពេញនគរ អង្គការសហប្រជាជាតិនិងពិភពលោកទាំងមូល ចិន-យួនអាចដោះដៃចេញពីហ៊ុន-សែន នៅពេលពួកគេបានទទួលសម្បទានពីហ៊ុន-សែនរួចរាល់ ហើយមិនចង់ប្រឈមជាមួយកំឡាំងប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរនិងពិភពលោកទាំងមូល។

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